Start or Grow a Business and Succeed
Start or Grow a Business and Succeed
You’ve got a genius business idea that you know will be a massive success… Congratulations! Before you go any further, read these questions. If you can answer all of them yes, proceed. If not, WAIT! You are far from ready.
- Have you spent hours contemplating how to set up or grow your company and make your dream a reality? Do you have a solid plan?
- Do you have an educated understanding of the time and commitment it takes to build your organization and be competitive? Do you have the passion required to make huge sacrifices along the way?
- Are you sure you have the patience, persistence, and perseverance to go the distance? Whatever your thoughts are, be ready for it to take longer and cost more.
Great, you passed that screening. Now, before you pull the trigger and embark on this exciting journey, you know you need a rock-solid plan. Some successful entrepreneurs make it look so easy. It appears as though they took an idea, bought the domain, built the site, and then fired up their social media profiles. Suddenly, they were visible to potential customers. Instantly they had thousands of followers who became interested in the products and services they offer. Immediately those customers decided to purchase…..OVERNIGHT SUCCESS!
Ummmm, it’s not quite that easy...
If you are amongst those entrepreneurs who have already started to grow a business, you know this is the truth!
Let’s walk through this together and discuss the fundamentals of starting or growing a business.
Together, lets set up a lemonade stand.
- What’s the vision? Do we want to sell 1000 cups of lemonade a day/week/month?
- Where will we get the capital to buy supplies, build the stand, set up advertising?
- Where should we buy lemons, sugar, cups, and other supplies?
- What shall we call it?
- How do we delegate tasks? Who do we seek guidance from along the way?
- How do we record expenses, sales, and store the profits?
- What is our message? Why is our lemonade the best lemonade money can buy?
- How will we get that message out to the public? Is it reaching the right people, those who like and buy lemonade? It’s not going to help us if only cola fans see our ads.
This list certainly is not exhaustive, but at least you can see what you’re committing to. None of this is rocket science, but it does require detailed planning and relentless effort.
Start with a Vision:
Read more about how to create a vision
Think about where you want to be at the end of this year; next year; in 5 years; 30 years.
- 1 year: one lemonade stand that sells 5000 cups of lemonade.
- Next year: two stands, selling 12000 (20% increase) cups; introducing new flavors, possibly snacks.
- 5 years: kiosks in malls, small storefronts in high-traffic venues (ex: beach boardwalks).
- 30 years: Established as a wholesale supplier, regional, or national franchise. Expanded product line.
Name your business
Be careful about being too cute or too clever. This type of uniqueness is best left for established entities and celebrities. You’ll get there but start where you’re at, and that is at the bottom, trying to break through the barriers of entry. Here are proven best practices to set yourself up for success:
- Choose a business name that is easy to remember, pronounce, and spell. Most of your audience will be looking you up online, and complicated names can easily be forgotten or lead to a competitor if they are challenging to find. Choose a business name that makes it easy to understand what your business is about. Naming your lemonade stand after your dog may seem cute, but who will ever know what you are selling if it’s called “Fido’s Place”?
- Check for the availability of the URL; you may consider buying several domains to protect yourself from competitors. For example, don’t only buy lemonadestand.com, buy lemonadestand.net, lemonadestand.org, etc. You don’t have to develop the websites, but you will protect yourself from someone else infringing on your good name.
- Check the trademarks. It would be heartbreaking to successfully brand a product only to find out someone else has the legal rights to it. Register your name with the appropriate authorities. You don’t want someone else capitalizing on your brand later on.
- Research to decide if you should register as a Sole Proprietor, Limited Liability Company, or to Incorporate. All have different liabilities and advantages, make sure you understand which is best for you. There are easy and affordable legal templates, such as those found on Rocket Lawyer, that may help you. In the USA, you’ll also need to apply for a Federal Tax ID or EIN.
Remember, a business name has a significant impact on creating the brand of your organization. Your organization is similar to a living creature made up of core values, culture, and even passion. Choose a name while remembering your company is a breathing organism.
The importance of partners and mentors in business
Going it alone in business is tough! The sheer workload can be overwhelming and quickly lead to burnout, not to mention that two (or more) minds together is always better than one.
- A partner will share the daily workload
- A partner will have fresh ideas when you don’t (and vice versa)
- A partner will help carry you through the ups and downs that are unavoidable in business.
If having a partner is not realistic for you, you must find a support network. Sure, there are thousands of resources available online that promise miracles but not one of them gives YOU the personalized guidance on what’s best for YOUR business. Who will answer the difficult questions you have? Who will you bounce your ideas off of? Who will work with you to form a “think tank” to develop fresh ideas and conquer challenges? No book or a video will get that done. You need human interaction and feedback. At the very least, find a mastermind group where business owners support each other. If that’s not your thing, try a personal business coach. Either way, having experienced mentors is an invaluable resource that will save you time and money, and quite possibly your sanity.
Package it up and price it right!
To scale your business and consistently engage new customers, make sure your pricing and product packages are competitive.
Most aspiring entrepreneurs make the mistake of underpricing their products. The logic is that more people will buy it if it’s cheap. While that seems rational, consumer behavior is driven by a combination of logic and emotion. The low-cost aspect may be appealing, but on some level, people either consciously or unconsciously believe that what is cheap or free is inferior.
Overpricing can be equally disastrous. Consumers have instant access to information and can quickly compare to what your competitors are charging. You don’t have to be the cheapest, but you do need to offer a fair and competitive price. Inc. magazine recommends surveying your customers to get feedback about the quality of your product and if they believe it is priced fairly.
The key factors to consider when determining what to charge for your products are: know your customer, know your competition, know your costs, and know your revenue target.
Marketing your business
You can have the most incredible product, but it will do you little good if no one knows about it. You may have the most beautiful website, and it won’t help you at all if no one can find it. Make sure you understand your target audience and how to get your message in from of them. Be sure to create a top-notch site that every customer can trust and one that is built with SEO in mind. Hire a designer who can do this and optimize the website for excellent user experience and conversion rate.
Marketing is more than selling. Of course, you want to sell, but you must start by building consumer confidence in your product and your company. Marketing is your long-term strategy to boost consistent and repetitive sales. In 2019, the best marketing plans include these components:
- Know your audience: Research to narrow down your target market. How old are they? Are they male or female? Is there a geographical location that they tend to live in? What are their occupations? Hobbies? Concerns? Don’t assume everyone loves lemonade; find out what the common thread between lemonade drinkers is and design your marketing to reach them. If your target market is broad, think about how to tailor marketing efforts to reach different audiences within your niche. If half of your audience is teenagers, make different promos to reach them than you use to reach families with small children who enjoy the beach.
- Be consistent: Your branding message should be the same across all platforms, although it can be tailored to reach different audiences. What needs or want does your product satisfy? If your message is your lemonade is the healthiest of all, always keep that message. You may discern how it benefits athletes differently than homemakers, but the message must be the same.
- Be authentic: In this era, smooth-talking salesman promising miracles are seen as dishonest and manipulative. The more honest and sincere you appear, the better. Let your market see the human side of your business, and they will fall in love with you. Don’t use over-sensational photos or make unrealistic promises. Do allow them to be part of the behind the scenes process or let them in on some of the challenges you have overcome to get where you are. There’s a reason reality tv dominates the airwaves. Be real with your consumers.
- Content marketing: Freely educate your audience in a way that creates a need you’re your product or inspires them to use it without a direct sales pitch. For example, use a 60-second video or a 500-word blog that discusses the health benefits of lemons on the immune system. This builds value in consuming them, making the audience naturally interested in your product.
- Be engaging: We are inundated with over 4000 media messages daily. Make yours stand out! The most engaging are ones that make people laugh or smile. The days of fear-mongering no longer work. Don’t try to scare your customers into buying, show them how they will be uplifted when they do. We live still in a visual society, but the aesthetically perfect images no longer draw attention like organically imperfect ones.
- TELL YOUR AUDIENCE WHAT TO DO NEXT: This may seem obvious, but so many marketers neglect to do this. They assume their audience will be so enthused they will automatically go to their store or website and buy. WRONG! Research shows that well over 70% of buyers need to be told what to do, and it needs to be made accessible for them. In this technological era, that is easy. Include links to your website and your phone number with instructions to “learn more” “shop now” “call today” so that buyers can easily take the next step.
This guide is meant to be an overview of the most critical elements of starting or growing a business. Being self-employed can be one of the most rewarding life-experiences known to man. It is one of the most powerful acts of combining passion and purpose with living true to one’s self. One of the deepest feelings of satisfaction comes from the creation and execution of a plan and witnessing it come to fruition.
However, entrepreneurship is not for the meek or the mild, the weak of heart, or anyone looking for instant gratification. When more than 80% of businesses fail, it is critical to study and duplicate that the successful few have done. Know how they think, how they act, what their habits are, what they value, and what they don’t and then do as they do. Be committed, but open to readjust and redefine as needed, and embark on the most fantastic journey of your life.
At Life Coach Library, we make finding a business coach you love convenient and simple. All you have to do is register and fill out a brief questionnaire. We will match you with up to three coaches who are exactly what you are looking for, and they will all give you a free consultation. The best part…our service is completely FREE. Visit lifecoachlibrary.com to find out more about the impact of working with a certified coach will have.